Today, May 8th, is Julian’s Feast Day in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. In the Catholic Church, Julian is celebrated on May 13th. In Julian’s honor, let us consider these words from the Revelations of Divine Love that appear near the very end of her book and, no doubt, her long life:
Our faith is a light, naturally coming from our endless day that is our father, God; in which light our mother, Christ, and our good lord, the Holy Ghost, lead us in this mortal life . . . And at the end of woe, suddenly our eye shall be opened, and in clearness of sight our light shall be full . . . Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in our night, which light is God, our endless day.
Faith, Hope, and Love
Julian extols faith as the light that shines in our darkness, amidst our fears, within our sadness, and through all our joys. It is the presence of the blessed Trinity within us that keeps us hope-filled even when we see no way out of our predicament or the sufferings of the world. She further identifies the source of our light as none other than “charity” or spiritual love. This charity keeps us in faith and in hope, and faith and hope lead us ever more deeply into charity. Like St. Paul, Julian is convinced that, at the end “alle shalle be charity.”
Julian was also shown three ways of understanding this light of charity: uncreated charity (which is God’s love), created charity (which is the soul within God’s love), and charity given (which is the virtue of love). This gift of love that is bequeathed to us through the working of grace enables us to “love God for himself, and our self in God, and all that God loves, for the sake of God.” Julian marveled greatly at this virtue of charity because she realized that even though we live foolishly and blindly here on earth, yet God always beholds our efforts to lead lives of love. Furthermore, Julian assures us that God takes great joy in our good deeds. In fact, she reiterates that the best way we can please God is by wisely and truly believing that we please him, and “to rejoice with him and in him.”
For as truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end, praising and thanking him, as truly have we been in the foresight of God, loved and known in his endless purpose from without beginning, in which unbegun love he created us. In the same love he keeps us, and never suffers us to be hurt by which our bliss might be lessened. And therefore when the final judgment is given, and we are all brought up above, then shall we clearly see in God the privities which now are hidden from us.
On her Feast Day, may Julian’s words reassure us that faith, hope, and charity are living realities and powerful gifts, flowing from the very life of the Trinity within us. Let us rejoice that the Lord is always “pleased” with our efforts to live by the power of these three virtues. And may we experience some measure of Julian’s own joy this day—not because of specific circumstances, but because we are loved by our Creator from “without beginning” and will be loved through all eternity. Happy Julian’s Day!
PLEASE NOTE: The quotations above are from Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books), Copyright ©2013 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the written permission of the author.
All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.